Volume 79, Number 49 | May 12 - 18, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Scoopy's Notebook

How faux can you go?
Local elected officials and some community members recently got a preview of the M.T.A.’s design for its emergency fan plant at Mulry Square, at Greenwich Ave. and Seventh Ave. South and, from what we’re hearing, the transit agency has made a major faux pas. Last June, Community Board 2 and Greenwich Village neighbors told the M.T.A. to go back to the drawing board and revamp its design for the aboveground facility to make it more contextual. However, what the agency has created is a garish-looking “faux-cade” — a fake townhouse facade on two sides — according to a person who saw the plan. Basically, it’s a building the same size as its neighbors, but with the aforementioned “faux-cade” hanging off of it — and extending 8 feet in the air above it. “You can actually look through windows to nothing. There’s nothing — there’s not even windows,” said the horrified source. Word has it that, even without the facade, the structure is a complete clunker. “They’ve changed the massing, it’s too tall,” said the source. “It’s solid concrete. It’s Brutalist.” Clearly, if built it would be “brutal” on the prominent location, which is within the Greenwich Village Historic District and at the intersection of two major avenues. Another option, we’re told, nearly as bad as the first, was for the structure to be covered with a humongous ivy vine — naturally, everyone was skeptical the foliage would even be maintained. C.B. 2 also feels strongly that the “Tiles for America” — the 9/11 tiles ringing the chain-link fence at the current site — must be incorporated into the final project. Since the M.T.A. owns the triangular-shaped lot, no city agency, not even the Landmarks Preservation Commission, can stop the pretend-townhouse project from moving forward now. “The only people that have the authority to stop this is the State Historic Preservation Office — SHiPO,” our source said, gravely. So, will the SHiPO hit the fan? We shall see. … Meanwhile, as The Villager was going to press Tuesday night, the “faux-cade” plan was being presented to C.B. 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, and we could practically hear the groans of disapproval.

‘Climb every mountain’:
Don Healy, the Greenwich Village resident whose mountaineering exploits were chronicled in The Villager last year, is on his way to fulfilling his promise to scale Mt. Everest by his 65th birthday this month. Healy said via e-mail last week that he has been at the Everest base camp or higher for several weeks training and getting acclimatized for the summit attempt. In an e-mail received Tues., May 11, he said, “If all goes well I should begin the summit assault on or about May 15 which should put me on the summit (if all goes well) sometime around May 22. The exact timing is very dependent on the weather.”

Moto-cafe madness:
In the classic flick “The Wild One,” Marlon Brando and his motorcycle gang terrorize a town. Now, in a real-life, contemporary update, a self-dubbed “motorcycle couture cafe” is scaring the bejesus out of a 101-year-old West Village woman, making her fear for her very life. The centenarian senior lives on the second floor at 10 Downing St. above the New York City Motorcycle Federation. The cafe/motorcycle gear boutique throws parties every Friday night and occasional special events on Saturday evenings. Two Saturdays ago, a three-piece alt rock band played for a crowd of 30, and the upstairs neighbor thought a horde of Harleys were roaring through her apartment. The woman’s distraught daughter wrote: “The reverberations from the amplification were so strong, a floor lamp fell over, furniture was shaking.” But it got even worse — to the point of a flameout, and we’re not talking about the motorcycles. “The sound went through my mother’s lift chair causing it to vibrate violently,” the daughter continued. “The chair then stopped working. Mother was frightened, crying that she wanted to go to bed, but the chair would not lift. The transmitter became very hot so I could not unplug it. I was deathly afraid it would explode/catch fire.” But it didn’t, thankfully. The moto-cafe didn’t even have its own restroom, so they were sending the hipster bikers to a basement bathroom accessed through the 10 Downing St. tenants’ laundry room. We went by the place last week, and were informed that they’ve at least addressed the latter issue, and their patrons will now access the bathroom through the front door of 10 Downing St., not via the tenants’ laundry room. But the woman’s daughter charged that the place lacks a cabaret license, so shouldn’t be allowed to have amplified bands. We left a message at the Motorcycle Federation, but didn’t get a response by press time.

Let’s Get It Together!
Speaking of rock bands, The Stalkers, featuring Danny Gold, The Villager’s former circulation manager, on bass, are really hitting the big time. They’ll be opening at the Bowery Ballroom on Sat., May 15, for Jesse Malin and the St. Mark’s Social, reportedly “at the request of Jesse Malin himself.”

About two weeks ago, the artist De La Vega — who said, “I’m Jewish” — put this sign up in his St. Mark’s museum window, without explaining why. He recently took it down.

De La Vega de-escalates:
Apparently, De La Vega has chosen to call off his feud with Cafe Mogador, across the street from him on St. Mark’s Place, between First Ave. and Avenue A. The artist had started by placing a “Boycott Mogador” sign in his window, which he subsequently replaced with an even more provocative “Mogador Exploits Jews” sign. While the second sign was still up, we went by and had a sit-down with the artist — who cultivates an air of mystery around himself — and tried to find out what it was all about. Meanwhile, the signs, coupled with De La Vega’s silence about them, were cultivating “confusion” among passersby, according to “Digital Man,” a longtime East Village resident, who said he has always enjoyed eating at Mogador, which has been in the neighborhood more than 25 years. De La Vega basically refused to explain either sign, saying they spoke for themselves — though, regarding the second one, he did tell us we should ask the cafe’s workers about it, that “they know.” In our visits, we saw no signs of either Jewish or non-Jewish workers being mistreated at Mogador, and none of them mentioned anything about it to us. Anyway, we went by De La Vega’s place again this Monday night, just to check if the sign was still up, and it was gone. A call left on his business answering machine seeking an explanation was not returned by press time. In addition, during our interview, De La Vega also clarified some points in our article of two weeks ago. First, he is not necessarily Puerto Rican, but then again, he might be. Second, his first name isn’t James (even if Wikipedia says so) — he’s just De La Vega. Period. Also, he didn’t set up giant loudspeakers in front of his store and blare salsa music when Woody Allen was filming at Mogador two years ago — salsa was simply playing on the same small boom-box by his museum’s door at the same volume as it always does. And when Larry David (not Woody Allen) asked him to lower it because it was affecting the shoot, he refused. So why didn’t he just turn it down? we asked. “Why should I?” De La Vega said. Umm, good point. … He said the Woodman and David were nice guys. Also, he told us, “I’m Jewish.” So he was bar mitzvahed? “That I’m not going to answer,” he said. Oy vey.

Wire war of words:
A Verizon spokesperson took issue with our item in last week’s issue in which we said Paul Garrin, the anti-establishment East Village Internet guru, had told us FiOS likely won’t be coming to the East Village and Lower East Side due to high installation costs. “Our commitment to the city of New York is that we will have fiber optics covering 100 percent of the five boroughs within six years, by mid-2014,” said John Bonomo. He added that no streets will be “ripped up,” but that fiber optics will be laid through the company’s existing copper-wire conduits. Then again, installing FiOS won’t exactly be easy, Bonomo admitted. “Even after we have FiOS facilities in an area and passing a particular building, we must negotiate agreements with property owners and building managers to bring it into that building,” he said. “A much different process than bringing it to a single-family home in one of the outer boroughs or the suburbs.” As for Garrin’s gripes, Bonomo said, “Maybe what Mr. Garrin was expressing was the frustration in not having FiOS in his building.” Garrin responded that Verizon has been tearing its copper wires out of the streets, reducing the East Village’s Internet capacity. “The deficiencies in the F.C.C.-regulated copper infrastructure that Verizon owns and must share with other carriers is the bottleneck that prevents alternative and competitive services from getting needed capacity,” Garrin said. “Apparently, Verizon’s strategy since the F.C.C. rules changed in the ’90s (they have to share copper lines but they don’t have to share fiber) is to reduce the amount of copper available, so other carriers have no path to their customers over the regulated infrastructure, effectively choking off any competition. They managed to kill off alternative D.S.L. providers this way. This puts Verizon in a monopoly position when it comes to fiber connections to individual buildings and residences in N.Y.C., and eliminates consumer choice by excluding competition from alternative carriers who do not have wholesale access to the unregulated fiber-optic lines.” Of his own wireless service, Garrin said, “WiFi-NY is the ‘third-way’ alternative to the Verizon/Time Warner duopoly over broadband Internet service in our area.”

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